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Zarzis fishermen on the frontline in migrant rescue efforts

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Zarzis fishermen on the frontline in migrant rescue efforts


Fishermen from a port town in southern Tunisia are on the frontline in the struggle to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the Mediterranean.

The Zarzis trawlers have rescued thousands of people from drowning as they attempt to cross the water in search of a fresh start.

Those saved often hail from war-torn Libya, 40 to 50 kilometres to the north east.

At least 1,800 people are believed to have perished in the Mediterranean between January and the end of May, 2015.

Fisherman Chamseddine Bourassine says he has saved 350-400 people. He says all the boats in the harbour have saved lives. Most recently, 250 people were rescued from four boats.

Many of the fishermen say they are sceptical about proposed European Union action against people traffickers, worried about the risks involved for those seeking asylum, such as Somali national Rachid Merany.

He recounted the moment his boat was resuced, by Bourassine.

“The boat was sinking and I saw the fishermen. They told us to sit down in the boat. All cried out: “Help me! Help me! I thought that I would die.”

Meanwhile, the crisis continues for the Italian coastguards. They rescued more than 4,200 migrants in the Mediterranean over the weekend of May 30-31, 2015. Seventeen dead bodies were reportedly found in one of the boats.

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